Priorities & Projects of Department’s branches in relation to Budget for 1998-99

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Mineral Resources and Energy

06 May 1998
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

6 May 1998

Documents handed out:
Asbestos pollution (See appendix)

Minutes were not taken of the first half an hour of the meeting.

Fatalities in mining: people were having to operate large bulky equipment in hot, often quite dark environments. The casualties had resulted from both worker incompetence and/or machinery failure. Workers were also taking too many chances. Ergonomically incorrect design of equipment was also a problem and played a part in casualties. The chairperson said then that there was a need for follow-up on the issues raised by the Mine and Safety Act. More information was needed on the issues. The chairperson added that there were softer issues that needed discussing i.e. occupational health and asbestos-related health complaints.

Mr Taljard (Chief Director of Mineral Regulation, Mineral Development Branch) stated that mine rehabilitation and mining rights fell under his directorship. His broad priorities were the completion of minerals and mining policy process and the improvement of service delivery. The budget for 98/99 was R50, 996 million, up from R40,090 million in 97/98. The purpose of mineral regulation was to regulate mineral development and to ensure orderly development with respect to the environment and mining rights.

The mining rights vision for 98/99 is to promote uniform application of mineral legislature. This division also hoped to provide support and advisory services. Their 1998 objectives were to provide a mineral rights database, improve staff training and increase overall productivity and efficiency. Their budget had increased from R1 818 000 in 97/98 to R1 996 000 in 98/99.

The Mine Rehabilitation division aimed to improve planning of environmental management and promote training and advisory services. Their budget had increased from R5 498 000 to R10 801 000 in 98/99. The division would produce framework policies on mine rehabilitation, would take responsibility of rehabilitation of derelict and ownerless mines, would increase communication between itself and the mining industry and provide a support and extension function for smaller mines. The Mining Rehabilitation division would aim to develop guidelines and policies in an attempt to manage derelict and ownerless mines. In conclusion Mr. Taljard said that asbestos mine dumps, gold slimes and coal mines all were health risks. Research was being undertaken by scientists from Potchefstroom University to advise the department as how to go about rectifying the situation. They would use the department’s equipment and the finances involved would be in excess of R10 million. A committee which physically investigates the sites and meetings of all shareholders would be held.

Mr Blaas asked what type of rehabilitation was taking place - was it managerial or actual physical rehabilitation?
Mr Taljard responded by saying that they were busy with actual rehababilitation. However next year would be when most of the big money would be spent as at the moment mine owners were responsible for their own dumps according to regulations.

Mr. De Wet asked about the problem of pollution over towns far from mines, especially in the Mafife and Soweto areas. Mr Taljard responded by saying that the department’s responsibility was for the mine and mine dumps and their consequent pollution only. Roads and houses built by the previous government from old asbestos parts had caused significant health problems. However there was not enough money in their budget to deal with these problems and they were trying to put the problems to the roads department of the provinces.

The chairperson made reference to the fact that many sprinklers had been stolen from mine dumps and that dust was increasing health risks to people in the vicinity of mine dumps. The MEC for Environment and Agriculture along with other provincial governmental bodies must step in and help once clear plans had been formulated.

Mr Taljard said that dumps have owners and they may try to shift the blame but they are responsible.

Mr Mahlangu said that they needed community involvement and that this should be focussed on. Mr Taljard replied that it was difficult to get enough community involvement to make this plan of action worthwhile but tribal authorities were trying to meet and provide solutions.

The Chairperson stated that this was bigger than just a mining issue and needed a holistic viewpoint and that co-operation was critical.
Mr Mahlangu then said that he understood that mine owners were responsible for rehabilitation, but in Witbank he had seen that there was no protection around dumps which was not healthy. Whose responsibility was that?

Mr Taljard responded that Mineral and Energy Affairs and the Department of Water Affairs had already spent millions on the Witbank mine situation. It was a big problem. They were busy planning a pilot plant which would help to solve the Witbank problems. They had closed the burning parts of the mine and attempted to put out the fires. They were also consulting with engineers in an attempt to take out the existing coal as people were going into the mine to try and retrieve coal. The owner of the mine had long gone and therefore the responsibility was the state’s.

The chairperson ended the brief by Mr Taljard by saying that the Rehabilitation office in Braamfontein had on record that thousands of non- mine workers had been injured by the mines. The rehabilitation issue was a major one and society was totally uninformed of the dangers of entering these abandoned mines. The problem of security and protection round the dumps also had to addressed. Research needed to be done into underground fires as they were difficult to put out.

Dr. Slientz was the next speaker from the Energy department. Minutes of his presentation can be found in the form of the document titled "Energy Branch - Department of Minerals and Energy, 1998/1999".

The Chairperson asked Dr. Slientz what the implications were of not being signatories of the Kyoto Protocol. Dr. Slientz responded that South Africa was a member of the Kyoto Protocol but was not an Annex 1 country. South Africa was signed on as a developing country.

Professor Mohamed asked about smokeless fuels and were they being implemented?
Dr. Slientz said that the low smoke fuels did not cost anymore than ordinary fuels but were handled differently. 200-300 tons of low smoke fuels and been used in Kolobosha township resulting in a 40% decrease in pollution. However they burnt differently and had to be handled differently.

The professor then asked why could legislation not be introduced so as to speed up the process of introduction of low smoke fuels? The chairperson stated that they must consider the pace of implementation. Slowness on their part was essential as this would help to facilitate more communication. The chair ended the debate saying that the government needed to make a decision to go a certain route.

Mr Maloy, Director of Minerals and Promotion under Mineral Development,addressed the portfolio committee next.

He said that the major priorities of his division were:
-small scale mining
-building up of a comprehensive databank so that people could get all the information on mining that they needed.
-downscaling of our mature industry
-restructuring of state and attached assets
-investigation into feasibility of mineral rights tax.
-value adding and benficiation.

Mr Maloy said that mega-mines existed in South Africa and that ownership was concentrated. South Africa was said to have very atypical deposits i.e. the unique Bushveld complex. Witwatersrand gold was the single biggest gold deposit in the world and it therefore requires huge companies to run it. Thus small scale operations were not encouraged. He said that small scale mining needed encouragement in South Africa.

Mr Maloy said that managing downscaling was an important issue and that state assistance was needed. Owing to the decline in the gold price a gold crisis committee needed to be set up. Restructuring of state assets would include the national government’s three mines.

The meeting closed.

Asbestos Pollution

What Needs to be Done

Prepared by Dr. Ahmod Randeree
Department of Health, Developmental Welfare and Environmental Health - Northern Cape.

5 April 1998

Purpose of Document
Brief Background
Toxicity of Asbestos
Evolution of Knowledge
Asbestos Related Disease (ARD)
ASBESTOSIS or scarring of the lungs.
CANCER of the lung.
Dimensions of the Problem
Environmental Pollution
Asbestos Tailings Dumps
Roads, Playing Fields, School Grounds
Health of Communities
ARD as a Result of Exposure at Work
ARD Due to Environmental Exposure
Prevalence of ARD Social Effects
Cost to Society
What Needs to be Done
Clean up of the Environment
Asbestos Tailings Dumps
Rehabilitation of Communities

Whose Responsibility is it?

Rehabilitation of Asbestos Tailings Dumps Potchefstroom University Methodology Concerns Regarding the Methodology Spray Technology

Cost of Rehabilitation Cost of Reclamation Dumps Minimising Costs
Homes and Roads
Community Rehabilitation Health Care Work Related ARD Employment Opportunities
Action Plan Community Awareness Government Responsibility Components of a Comprehensive Solution Appointment of a Coordinator Role of Government


Purpose of Document

The link between asbestos dust and disease, including asbestosis, cancer and mesothelioma is now well known. Much of the credit for this knowledge must go to South Africa scientists who did excellent research until the 1960s. There was then a lull in independent research. It need surprise no one that the apartheid regime and its functionaries connived with mining companies to withdraw funding and to pressurise research scientists. In the pursuit of super profits the danger to human health was ignored and evidence suppressed.

The history of asbestos mining in South Africa is a catalogue of horrors. The continued impact of these horrors is one more baggage in the heavy load of injustice which democratic South Africa has inherited because of the crime of apartheid.

This document outlines the human and environmental dimensions of negligent asbestos mining in South Africa. The document goes on to suggest strategies to eliminate or minimise the problem.
Brief Background
The fire retardant quality of asbestos has been known for several thousand years. However, widespread mining and use of asbestos came only on the heels of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century.

The three most common types of asbestos are

Crocidolite - blue asbestos (the most toxic)
Chrysotile - white asbestos
Amosite - brown asbestos

The mining of asbestos in South Africa commenced in 1890s. In the Northern Cape and in the Northern Province crocidolite (blue asbestos) was the commonest type. Amosite was mined mainly in Mpumulanga.

From the very beginning the health and safety of mineworkers was largely ignored. So was the impact on the environment. There are stories of dust so thick one could barely see; of workers, including women and little children, being covered in asbestos dust from head to toe; of asbestos being transported in open railway cars with small amounts of the substance falling along the railway line.

Until the toxic nature of asbestos was not known mining companies could be criticised for negligently exposing workers to dust. But, by the turn of the century, there was evidence of the toxicity of asbestos. Negligence then became criminal.

Asbestos is flexible, has tensile strength, is chemically inert and has excellent insulating properties. Because of these desirable properties it has been manufactured into thousands of products.

Toxicity of Asbestos
Evolution of Knowledge
By the turn of the century concerns were being expressed about the "evil effects" of asbestos.

• 1906, a British Parliamentary Commission confirmed the first cases of asbestos related deaths in factories.
• 1918 the Prudential Insurance Company in the United States produced a study showing premature deaths in the asbestos industry.
• 1920s workers were being compensated in the United States for asbestos related disease.
1930s German researchers identified six lung cancer deaths among
• asbestos textile workers.
• 1960, Wagner published a paper identifying a new disease, mesothelioma (a rapidly fatal cancer of the lining of the lungs), among people exposed to asbestos in South Africa.

This catalogue of increasing evidence, demonstrating the toxicity of asbestos fibres, was public knowledge. Asbestos companies which continued to expose workers and communities to this toxic substance were clearly negligent. When the link to cancer was demonstrated, negligence became criminal behaviour. It is impossible to find adequate words for the attempt to suppress the significance of Wagner's work.

Asbestos Related Disease (ARD)
Exposure to asbestos fibres can lead to pathologic changes in the respiratory or the digestive system. The more or prolonged the exposure the more likelihood of disease.

ASBESTOSIS or scarring of the lungs.
Asbestosis is a progressive and irreversible disease. Persons affected have increasing difficulty in breathing. Scarring may become so advanced that the victim is breathless, even at rest, and oxygen is of very little use. This is the fate of the person suffering from advanced asbestosis; only death brings relief.

CANCER of the lung.
There is usually a latent or lag period between exposure to asbestos and the development of cancer. This period is often fifteen years or longer. Sooner or later this disease is fatal. Smokers are much more likely to develop the disease because of the synergy between smoking and exposure to asbestos fibre.

This is a rare form of cancer of the lining of the lungs, of the heart and of the abdominal cavity. Crocidolite asbestos is the most potent cause of this cancer. It is rapidly fatal once diagnosed; death takes place within less than a year of diagnosis. The significance of this disease is that asbestos is the only known substance that causes mesothelioma.

In this disease, the membrane which lines the chest cavity and covers the lungs (pleura) or the heart (pericardium) develops discrete patches of thickening. These thickened patches are called "pleural plaques". In most instanced they do not cause symptoms. Occassionally, they spread over a large part of the lining of the lung, become calcified and hardened. In such a situation they may restrict expansion of the lungs resulting in chest pain and difficulty in breathing.

Exposure to asbestos can lead to cancer of the larynx, bowel, and perhaps other organs.

Even exposure of short duration to a small quantity of asbestos fibres may lead to one of these fatal diseases. For this reason no level of exposure can be regarded as safe; there should be zero exposure.

There is often an interval of 30 or more years between exposure and disease. There are, therefore, thousands of South African who will, in the future, suffer from one of these diseases because of current exposure from environmental pollution. Even if there is no further exposure, the burden on our health care system will extend well into the next century.

Democratic South Africa has inherited this burden. Unlike apartheid we cannot ignore the needs of our communities. But we are also sitting on a "time bomb" which will go on exposing people if nothing is done to clean up the environment. The mining companies have long since packed their bags and returned to Europe.

Dimensions of the Problem
Under apartheid, South Africa was divided into two societies, black and white. The health and social needs of the latter were well served by an infrastructure comparable to the best in the world. The needs of the former were largely ignored.

It is the impact of asbestos mining on the black community that is of concern.

Environmental Pollution
Unsafe and unhealthy work practices on the part of mining companies, compounded by failure to dispose of toxic, asbestos containing waste products, have resulted in environmental pollution in several provinces of South Africa. The worse affected are the Northern Cape, Northern Province, Mpumulanga and the North West Province.

Asbestos Tailings Dumps
In order for usable fibres to be extracted asbestos bearing rock has to be crushed. At first this was done by hand. Men, women and children were employed to do this. They laboured all day, hammering away at the rock to extract asbestos for the profit of the mining companies. No attempt was made to protect these workers from the toxic dust which covered their clothing and their bodies and which they inhaled and swallowed.

Later crushing mills were built to speed up the process of extraction. In almost all instances these mills were built in the midst of settled communities. Unsafe crushing practice continued resulting in asbestos containing dust enveloping the surrounding area. The waste material, still containing asbestos fibres, was dumped in the surrounding area. Over time these dumps became huge looking like mountains.

In the Northern Cape known asbestos tailings dumps are located in Prieska, Marydale, Koegas, Postmasburg, Kuruman, Hotazel and Severn. Tailings dumps are also located in Northern Province, Mpumulanga and in the North West Province. It is hope that all dump sites will have been identified before the end of 1998. In areas where strong winds prevail toxic material may be carried 60 to 100 kilometres. Heavy rains wash it to the surrounding area from where it may leach into the ground water.

Thousands of people live in the shadow of these mountainous, poison laden, tailings dumps.

Thus, as a result of the criminal practices of mining companies, whole communities are environmentally exposed to toxic asbestos fibres.

Roads, Playing Fields, School Grounds
Because of their proximity to settled communities, toxic material from the asbestos tailings dumps was incorporated into road surfaces and spread over school yards and playing fields. Nobody told the people of the dangers of this practice; mining companies, of course, were fully aware of this danger.

Traffic on these roads generates asbestos containing dust. When it rains such material is washed into rivers. Not only do children play in these rivers but there is potential for toxic fibres to be carried long distances.

People incorporated material from the dumps into the making of bricks. Modest houses were constructed out of these bricks. As in many other parts of the world roofs, ceilings and floors were made out of asbestos containing material.

Asbestos fibres are now being extruded from the bricks. Ceilings are crumbling resulting in asbestos fibres floating inside homes.
Residents breathe in this polluted air.

Health of Communities
In many instances, communities live in the midst of these polluted areas. Exposure to toxic asbestos fibres has had a disastrous effect on the health of people living in these communities.

ARD as a Result of Exposure at Work
Workers who developed ARD as a result of occupational exposure are entitled to compensation from Medical Bureau of Occupational Diseases (MBOD). Their right to such compensation does not expire. So, even if they were not able to exercise their right under apartheid, they are able to do so now.

ARD Due to Environmental Exposure
Those who developed ARD as a result of environmental exposure are, legally, not entitled to any form of compensation. Since asbestos mining activity in South Africa has largely ceased, it is those environmentally exposed who, in the future, will form the bulk of the population with asbestos related disease.

Prevalence of ARD
There is limited information on the extent of ARD in black communities. Under apartheid researchers were only able to examine white populations; they lived in settled communities and good records on their health status were available.

There are many reasons for this including
- the migratory labour system
- lack of reporting to MBOD
- neglect of black communities by the apartheid health care system
- lack of a structured awareness programme on the dangers of asbestos

Depending on the location of asbestos dump sites estimates of ARD in the black community vary from 25% to 50% of exposed individuals. These are shockingly high estimates. Aside from the pain and suffering of individuals with ARD the social consequences of such large numbers is enormous.

Social Effects
In most areas polluted by asbestos there is little new investment coming in.
Economic activity is limited. Unemployment in many of these areas is in the order of 70% to 80%

Other social diseases follow on the heels of so much unemployment. Alcohol abuse is widespread as is endemic violence. This is, at least in part, attributable to the polluted environment.

Given the depressed quality of life, other diseases such as tuberculosis, hypertension, heart disease, under nutrition contribute to the burden of illness.

Cost to Society
In the past, given limited health services and a poor social support network, the cost of illness, unemployment and concomitant social problems in the black community did not figure large in provincial or national budgets. The situation now is very different.

Not only is the democratic government under an obligation to meet the needs of all the people of South Africa but communities have expectations that they will no more be victims of an unjust society. With greater access to information combined with an awareness of their rights citizens are going to be less tolerant of neglect or delay in addressing their needs. The political cost of this can be high.
But there are social costs. Asbestos is an almost indestructible substance. As long as people are exposed to an asbestos polluted environment, they will continue to become sick. Now that there is a greater degree of awareness the stress of living in these conditions is great. Psychological and physical problems triggered by stress will add to the problem.

Unemployment will remain high with the accompanying social problems alluded to above.

The financial cost to society of individual and social sickness is difficult to quantify. It includes the cost of health care, welfare payments, disability grants, social violence, increased need for police services and so on. The cost of pain and suffering is not quantifiable but also not difficult to fathom.

If nothing is done to address the problem these costs will continue for decades into the future.

What Needs to be Done
Environmental pollution with asbestos has had, and continues to have, a disastrous impact on communities. Because of this, it is not enough to rehabilitate the environment; it is equally important, perhaps more so, to rehabilitate affected individuals and communities.

In both instances, the community has to be part of the process. Educational and informational programmes must be undertaken in affected areas so that people are aware what is planned and why. Any questions, uncertainties or doubts must be addressed. In this way, it is hoped, people have part ownership of the process with a view to eventually becoming custodians of their own future.

A solution that may appear obvious is to relocate communities away from dump sites. It is an option that is available but is likely to be of limited values as wind and water spread contaminated material far and wide. Furthermore, there are multiple dump sites in several provinces; the logistics, costs and, possibly, cultural dimensions of moving thousands of people makes this an impractical solution.

Clean up of the Environment
Asbestos is a virtually indestructible material. It does not degrade or transform into harmless products. For as long as it is in the environment it will pose a dangerous health hazard.

As indicated earlier pollution of the general environment results from asbestos tailings dumps and from road surfaces which have asbestos incorporated in them. Individual families are affected by asbestos fibres from deteriorating ceilings and extruding from bricks used to build their homes.

A survey will need to be conducted to identify sections of roads that are contaminated and homes that need remediation.

Where there are asbestos stockpiles along railway lines they will also have to be cleaned up.

Asbestos Tailings Dumps
These dumps are scattered in the Northern Cape, Northern Province, Mpumulanga and the North West Province. They are the source of large scale pollution of the environment.

Contaminated material is scattered to surrounding areas, is blown many kilometres by strong winds such as those that prevail in the Karoo and washed into rivers from where it is carried to distant places.

Children play on these dumps and swim in the rivers.
The solution is to encapsulate these dumps so contaminated material is contained. Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it sounds; current technology is fraught with difficulties. This issue will be addressed later in this report.

Where asbestos containing material has been incorporated into road construction, the solution is to resurface with durable, non toxic material. The intention is to prevent asbestos containing dust being generated by vehicles driven on these roads.

It would be costly to replace all homes built with material in which asbestos was incorporated. There are less costly alternatives.

Where asbestos ceilings in homes are beginning to deteriorate, the options are either to replace the old ceiling or to cover it.

Removal of ceilings has to be done with great care. The area where this is done has to be sealed. Those who do the work have to be protected from exposure. It must be ensured that no asbestos containing dust is left behind. This can be costly and may not be practical.

Covering the old ceiling with material which seals in the asbestos fibres is a reasonable alternative.

With regard to the danger from asbestos extruding from bricks the practical solution is to plaster with cement and thus cover the bricks and the toxic fibres.

Rehabilitation of Communities
As mentioned earlier pollution of the environment with asbestos has had a disastrous and destabilising impact on many communities. Much work has to be done to restore the dignity of individuals and of the community.

Accessible health care which is respectful of persons has to be made available. Employment opportunities have to be created. Social support networks have to be put in place. Where people have developed asbestos related disease as a result of occupational exposure, they should be identified and assisted with their claims against the Medical Bureau of Occupational Diseases (MBOD).

Whose Responsibility is it?
With the discovery of the indisputable link between exposure to asbestos dust and mesothelioma the world market for this toxic substance collapsed. By the late 1960s most companies mining asbestos ceased operations. However, no effort was made to clean the environment nor were there any regulations that obliged them to do so. They merely packed their bags and left the country.

A firm of lawyers in London has started a suit against the company in the London High Court. It will be sometime before the outcome of this action is known.

The company was not a member of the Chamber of Mines. Thus, it is not possible to legally require the Chamber to take responsibility.

In such cases responsibility is finally vested in the National and Provincial Governments. The criminal system of apartheid largely ignored the needs of the black community. Democratic South Africa cannot do so. The masses of this country paid a high price to destabilise and destroy apartheid. Every attempt must be made to fulfil their needs.

In this regard, a start has been made.
The Department of Minerals and Energy has budgeted several million rand each year for the past few years for rehabilitation of asbestos tailings dumps. The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism has also provided funding for this project. But there are unanswered questions about the efficacy and safety of the technology and the methodology.

Rehabilitation of Asbestos Tailings Dumps
With regard to these dumps South Africa has inherited a unique set of problems. Asbestos mining took place and continues to take place in many parts of the world. But nowhere else has there been the need to rehabilitate such huge mounds of toxic dumps. There is no knowledge base anywhere is the world, outside South Africa, no centre of expertise that we can draw upon.

Potchefstroom University Methodology
The Research Institute for Reclamation Ecology, based at Potchefstroom University in the North West Province, claims expertise in the rehabilitation of asbestos tailings dumps.

The following appear to be the major steps in this process

• detection of sites using word of mouth, maps, land surveys
• computer modelling to assist in planning
• services of an engineer to do the planning
• contractors to do work on site using heavy equipment
• this includes levelling, grading and covering with top soil
• planting of indigenous, well rooting vegetation

The major cost item (>50%) is the fee paid to the contractor. The Department of Minerals and Energy budgets several million rands a year for rehabilitation of dump sites.

However, there are some concerns regarding the methodology which need to be cleared up before one can regard it as acceptable.

Concerns Regarding the Methodology
It is not clear how the Department of Minerals and Energy monitors the work done. Example, has the toxic dump site been satisfactorily sealed? after the work is done, are there regular site visits to ensure that the cover is still in place? In many areas there are strong winds to blow the top soil away or heavy rainfall to wash it away. What is the long term durability of this work?

In order to level and grade the dump earth moving equipment has to be driven back and forth over them. In the process contaminated material would adhere to the wheels and the body of the vehicles. What steps, if any, are taken to ensure this material does not become incorporated in the top soil used for covering the dump?

Top soil from the area surrounding the dump site is used to cover the dump. It is likely that, over the years, contaminated material from the dump would be spread to the top soil by wind and water. If this is then used to cover the dump, what are we achieving?

Health and Safety
Workers are brought to the site eg. by contractors. Are any steps taken to protect their safety and health? Are their educational programmes to inform workers of the hazards of the job? Are their training programmes? Should the Department of Labour be involved in ensuring compliance with health and safety regulations?

Contractors bring equipment and vehicles to the site from distant places. Are these properly decontaminated before returning to where they came from?
Spray Technology
TSW is a sodium silicate product which is said, by its promoters, to be a safe and effective method of making asbestos harmless. There is no evidence to support this contention, particularly when we are talking of very large asbestos tailings dumps.

The ingredients that go to make up TSW are not known nor is the long term safety of this product. The manufacturer's claims have not been proven.

In December 1997 a company in the United States, W.R. Grace & Co., announced the development of a new product capable of destroying asbestos. It was claimed that spraying the foamy solution onto asbestos chemically digested the fibres, dissolving them into harmless material. Some people are suspicion of this company referring to it as W.R. DISgrace.

Spray technology is enticingly simple sounding but has yet to be proven.

Cost of Rehabilitation
The cost of rehabilitation is not cheap. But, when compared to the long term cost to society, if nothing is done, as well as the cost in pain and suffering of those made ill by exposure to asbestos, clearly it is a cost that has to be met.

Not enough is known about Spray Technology for us to discuss this. What is suspected is not promising. Those who claim that it works will have to demonstrate that. They will also have to show that is safe and durable.

Cost of Reclamation Dumps
Annually the Department of Minerals and Energy pays several million rand to the Institute of Reclamation Ecology at Potchefstroom University. As far as is known a detailed breakdown of how the money is spent is not available.

Minimising Costs
As a first step there should be a close examination of the way funds are being used by the Institute. This will require a detailed breakdown accompanied by supporting documents.

It is possible that many of the cost items pertain to resources already available to government eg. The army has earth moving equipment and soldiers trained to use it. Since the cost of levelling, grading and covering the sites is over 50% using the army would immediately cut the cost to less than half.

Contracting out to local companies will generate much needed economic activity and may also be cost effective. Using local labour for most of the work will create employment opportunities which is an important ingredient in community rehabilitation.

Homes and Roads
In the case of homes, plastering will cover bricks from which asbestos fibres are extruding. deteriorating ceilings will have to be covered over. Given financial support from the Housing Ministry communities will be able to undertake this job.

Roads which have asbestos incorporated in them will have to be resurfaced. The Department of Roads and Transportation should be called upon to look into this, using as much local labour as is possible.

Community Rehabilitation
It is not acceptable that the environment is made safely habitable while human beings continue to suffer. Given that there is a great deal of awareness of the problem and that there is already a clamour for help neglect of communities could be costly politically.

Health Care
There is a great burden of disease in affected communities. Most of them are in areas where, until recently, health services were largely oriented towards addressing the needs of the white sector to the neglect of the black community. There is a widely held and deep-seated mistrust of health care professionals in these areas. Governments have the tricky task of providing adequate care while, at the same time, not appearing to undermine already existing infrastructure.

Work Related ARD
People with ARD acquired as a result of exposure at work are entitled to benefits from MBOD or COIDA. Many will already have received benefits. Where this is not so, they must be assisted to lodge claims.

Employment Opportunities
The high unemployment rate in many affected areas has already been mentioned. Communities must be assisted to develop cooperative enterprises in agriculture and other small business enterprises.

In some areas there are resources that can be exploited through such cooperatives.

Action Plan
Previously disadvantaged communities are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about socioeconomic problems they face. They are also aware of their right to services and support. This is a potent combination which can have a destabilising effect and may have political repercussions.

Community Awareness
Regarding the asbestos issue, in several areas, committees have been set up to draw the attention of government to the problem they face. As people in other affected areas become aware they, too, are beginning to organise in the expectation of government support. This is especially so in the Northern Cape and the Northern Province, both of which have extensive environmental pollution.

Government Responsibility
Both the National Government and relevant Provincial Governments must take responsibility for devising and implementing a long term plan for addressing the problem. The solution does not lie with any single cabinet office or government department; it requires the concerted effort of multiple cabinet offices and government departments.

Components of a Comprehensive Solution
It is important that the problem is examined in detail so that, when action is taken,

• communities are involved
• rehabilitation technology is effective and durable
• polluted roads and homes are identified
• costs are minimised
• health needs of people are addressed
• employment opportunities are created
• social support is made available
• extension services are put into place where needed

Appointment of a Coordinator
Appointment of a CoordinatorAs a first step a coordinator, with some understanding of the nature and dimension of the problem, must be appointed. This person will be responsible for

• an in-depth investigation of reclamation technology
• seeking information both in South Africa and abroad
• discussions with experts in abatement technology
• meeting with organisations which offer relevant technology
• meeting with affected communities
• liaising with relevant cabinet offices and government departments
• developing a detailed action plan

Role of Government
As pointed out above the first step must be the appointment of a coordinator. The work of this person will clarify which offices and departments will have a role to play.

It is likely the following will become involved

Health Needs - provincial Departments of Health
Work-related ARD - Medical Bureau of Occup. Diseases
Agricultural Co-ops - Department of Land Affairs
- Department of Agriculture
Employment - various dept. depending on resources
Social services - Department of Welfare
Homes Rehabilitation - Department of Housing
Resurfacing of roads - Department of Public Works
Dumps Rehabilitation - Department of Minerals and Energy
- Department of Envir. Affairs and Tourism
- Department of Defence
Managerial assistance - Department of Finance
Health and Safety - Department of Labour

Many thousands of South Africans have been made sick `because of criminal neglect of their safety and health under apartheid. The result is socially destabilised communities. If nothing is done this state of affairs will continue for generations.

A government, committed to social justice, has an obligation to assist communities whose quality of life has been undermined. It also has a responsibility to ensure that children born in post-apartheid South Africa
have the same opportunites as their peers.

This is sufficient reason for government to address the problem of environmental pollution from asbestos.


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